Hair samples from 79 young healthy adults from Vienna (Austria) and Rome (Italy) were analyzed for As, Cd, Co, Cr, Ni and Pb by ICP-MS. No differences were found between the two locations except for chromium, which was significantly higher in the Viennese population (P < 0.001). In both cities male hair contained higher arsenic (P < 0.001) and lower cadmium (P < 0.05) levels than female hair, and in Vienna lead concentrations were lower in males (P < 0.05). Striking differences appeared when smokers were compared with non-smokers. Geometric means (micrograms/g) of smokers versus non-smokers were: arsenic 0.081 vs. 0.065, cadmium 0.075 vs. 0.038 (P < 0.05), cobalt 0.025 vs. 0.010 (P < 0.05), chromium 0.84 vs. 0.72 (P < 0.05), lead 3.42 vs. 1.47 (P < 0.001) and nickel 0.64 vs. 0.32 (P < 0.005). Consideration of a large number of biological and behavioural factors minimizes bias inherent in unmatched sample composition.
Adult Arsenic/analysis Austria Cadmium/analysis Chromium/analysis Cobalt/analysis Female Hair/chemistry* Humans Italy Lead/analysis Male Metals/analysis* Nickel/analysis Sex Factors Smoking/physiopathology*